Winter is a busy time for the health system with many people exposed to illnesses such as cold and flu. NSW Health is preparing for a potentially serious flu season and we urge the community to do the same by being winter wise.

Our plans for winter include: 

  • Providing a public health immunisation programme for high risk members of the community
  • Providing flu vaccinations for all frontline health staff
  • Developing winter plans for NSW hospitals to cope with an increase in service demand.

We’re ready. Are you?

Here are some tips to be winter wise this season:

Keep well

Good hygiene and behaviour can help reduce the spread of illness.

Here are some simple things to remember:

Catch it and bin it

Germs can spread easily. Always carry a tissue and use it to catch your cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, coughing into your elbow is better than your hands.

Germs can live for several hours on tissues. Throw used tissues in a rubbish bin as soon as possible.

Kill it

Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Wash hands for at least 10 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Stay at home

Wait at least 24 hours after your fever resolves before you return to work or other public activities so you do not infect others. Keep sick children away from school and other activities.

Get a jab

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for anyone aged over 6 months who wishes to reduce their chances of becoming ill with influenza.

Public health experts advise that the best time to be vaccinated against the flu is before the winter season arrives. You can organise to have a flu vaccination through your GP. Some workplaces also offer free vaccination.

Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people.

As part of the Immunise Australia Program {insert link:} flu vaccination is free for high-risk groups, including: 

  • those with chronic respiratory conditions 
  • pregnant women (especially 2nd and 3rd trimester) 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 
  • people aged 65 years or older 
  • people with certain other chronic medical conditions  

Get a local GP

Make sure you have a local GP.

If you haven’t seen a doctor in a while, or have recently moved house, you should establish contact with a local GP before the winter season arrives.

Whenever you’re unwell, always speak to your GP first. Keep emergency departments for emergencies.

If you can’t get to a GP:

  • call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse. This service is free and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • call 000 immediately if your situation is urgent or life-threatening, or go directly to an emergency department for assistance. 

Make a Winter Wise plan

Cold weather during winter can worsen pre-existing chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, so it’s best to be prepared.

Asthmatics and diabetics should review their illness management plans, or speak to their GP if they do not already have one in place.

Page Updated: Sunday 23 March 2014